2017 saw a turnaround for German thermo process equipment manufacturers. This was already apparent at the beginning of 2017. Over the course of the year, there was a further slight fall in orders from countries outside the Eurozone. However, strong investments in the Eurozone resulted in a sales increase of 10 percent on annual average compared with the previous year. In 2017, the production volume of this sector in Germany recovered by almost 8 percent.
Sales growth up to 12 percent expected in 2018
The majority of participants in the current economic situation survey of the specialist association expect growth in sales in the current year. On average, growth could exceed 10 percent. On the basis of the average figure stated by respondents, further growth in orders received in the high single-digit range is also expected in the course of the year.
Slight upturn in world trade in thermo process equipment
In 2017, world trade in thermo process equipment rose by about 4 percent*. However, at € 9.1 billion, the volume was still € 500 million below the value of 2015. Apart from the USA, the largest delivery countries – China, Germany, Italy and Japan – all reported rises in exports again. Exports from Germany and China recovered by almost 6 percent and 4 percent respectively to € 1.8 billion and € 1.4 billion respectively. Deliveries from Italy and Japan rose by 12 and 11 percent to an export volume of € 1.3 billion and € 0.5 billion respectively. Germany remained the world market leader and was able to increase its market share to about 20 percent.
China remains largest market for thermo process equipment from Germany
Higher deliveries from Germany were largely accounted for by customers in China (plus 27 percent). Business with EU countries rose slightly to a value of about € 650 million. There were positive developments in exports to Russia (up 51 percent) and Turkey (up 56 percent). Growth was also recorded in business with Mexico (up 17 percent) and Switzerland (up 7 percent). Deliveries to the USA, the second-largest export market for thermo process equipment from Germany, fell by 7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, following three years of growth. However, Germany remains the largest supplier for the USA.
The ifo business confidence index for the respondent group “industrial furnaces and burners” improved successively over the course of the year. However, at the beginning of 2018, scepticism concerning existing geopolitical risks led to a relatively subdued assessment of the situation.
“Following the turnaround which has been achieved, the persistent geopolitical risks also form part of the overall picture, despite general optimism. The thermo process equipment sector faces challenges and opportunities as a result of continuing automation, networking and the expansion of service business,” said Dr. Timo Würz, Managing Director of the VDMA Metallurgy specialist association.
*Estimate – worldwide export data for 2017 are not yet available in full (values from countries such as India, Russia and Turkey are missing).